Words Writers Misuse

Words writers misuse will show you some very simple words English speaking writers misuse when writing articles. These are words we use in speech every day, but when it comes to writing them, they invariably cause a bit of confusion. If you have trouble with any of the words below, today's article should put your ambivalence at rest. 
If you have trouble writing other words (which aren't mentioned here) please list them in the comment section so I can address them at a later date. Failing that, you can check out this Free English Lessons page. We may have already dealt with them there.

Pay attention to your writing. Potential clients are looking at your mistakes right now.  The usage of the words below are outlined in their basic forms. There are exceptions to rules, so this article is in no way comprehensive. It was designed to quickly give an overview of the words addressed. 

Words writers misuse    

Then and Than

Then: (can be used instead of) at that time, after, next
Than: used to signify a contrast - or an exception

  • He broke into the house, then used their computer to update his Twitter account.
  • I'm taller than my sister by miles.

Much and many

These seem like easy words to understand, but I confess I used to have a block (with much and many) when I was younger. 
The way I remember them is: many can often be used for things I can count. Much can generally be used for things I can pour, money - as a whole, and food. 

  • I have many friends who're not yet on Facebook. 
  • He didn't give me much wine, but I reckon he didn't want to get me drunk. 
  • I don't have much money (BUT) she's got many coins down the back of her couch (OR) he's got many twenty dollar notes rammed in his back pocket.  

Less and fewer

Less and fewer are similar to much and many. These two are more confusing than the former, however. Many people confuse less and fewer, even in every day speech. Again, fewer can be generally used to signify things you can count, while less can be used for things you can pour, ideas, money (in general) and food.

  • I have fewer plants in my garden than my next door neighbour.
  • She has less cash than her brother does.
  • My water tank has less water than yours.

Effect and affect 

Effect: to cause something to happen, or to bring about a change
Affect: to make a difference to or to have an effect on  

  • His lies has an effect on her well-being 
  • His lies affect her well-being

Allot and a lot

I've seen these words used interchangeably. They are two totally different words with separate meanings. 
Allot: to appropriate or to give out (hand out)
A lot: much, a large amount

  • I allot the writing tasks, based on the writers' qualifications 
  • I do a lot of gardening because I find it rather therapeutic 

How about you? Do you find any of these words confusing? Do you have a system in place to remind you how and when to use them? Please share with us any misused words you see constantly on the Internet. If you benefited from 'Words Writers Misuse' please share it on your favourite social networking sites. Thank you. And don't forget to check out our page of grammar and English-use article


Anonymous October 2, 2012 at 6:58 PM  

Great examples. Thanks for sharing these.

Self Sagacity October 3, 2012 at 9:48 PM  

Great reminders Anne! Nice compilation of the words.

Icy BC October 8, 2012 at 10:22 PM  

Thanks for sharing this as they are a great reminder post!

Anne's a published author, freelance writer and experienced editor. She's just signed her second publishing contract this year with 2 separate publishing houses. You can hire her or see her available books in the side panel on the right.
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